Back into Spain

Saturday 29th April 2017, Caniza, Spain
It was only when we were ready to leave Portugal this morning that we realised the campsite manager had locked the gates overnight and driven off home rather than being on site in case of emergencies. We were waiting to pay and to have our electricity disconnected from the locked cupboard behind the door of which our cable was plugged. Suddenly I saw us as caged animals in an enclosure! We'd planned an early departure but were obliged to wait around until he'd finished his desayuno and coffee. Okay, maybe I am making a fuss but nobody else had realised we'd been locked in for the night. We were all parked amongst eucalyptus trees and the ground was littered with dry leaves and broken branches from the winter gales that had not yet been properly cleaned up for the season. Any sort of fire would be immediately blown right through the site and I imagine eucalyptus trees would burn fiercely. None of the tents or campervans would stand much chance and there would be no way for any of us to get out! Yesterday's main news on Portuguese TV was about a forest fire raging in inaccessible woodland further south in the country. I wonder whether international legislation governing fire safety on campsites exists within the EU. The manager, when he arrived, was friendly enough and we really didn't have the vocabulary to be cross with him.

Ian had worked out a way up into the hills behind the town where we picked up the autoroute to Valenca once more. We found ourselves driving through the same streets of the town that we'd visited by train just a few days back. This time though, our route took us across Gustav Eiffel's bridge to the Spanish side of the Minho and into the town of Tui. The bridge was an iron structure supported on granite columns which we crossed on the higher level, the section below carrying the railway track. It was quite small and rather narrow to take two-way traffic. At the time it was designed however it was intended for horse-drawn vehicles. It has stood the test of time and is both toll free and in far better condition than the narrow, broken but more recent Friendship Bridge we were obliged to use on earlier travels to cross the Danube between Bulgaria and Romania at Ruse. For that we'd been charged a hefty toll, payable only in euros, despite neither country using the euro, and it had been a terrifying experience!

Modestine crosses the iron bridge designed by Gustav Eiffel that links Portugal and Spain, Valenca

On the far side of the bridge we found ourselves in the centre of Tui, a very nice granite town of large imposing buildings with decorated glass-fronted balconies set into ornate iron frames. Tui is far more interesting than Valenca. If we'd realised we'd have walked across the bridge back into Spain for the day rather than kicking our heels hanging around for our train back to Carminha.

Approaching Tui, across the Minho from Portugal

Sculpture depicting lively bronze horses, Tui, Spain

Parking with ease up in the old town we explored the granite streets and wandered the public gardens where we admired the views of the green surrounding hills.

The cathedral was closed for a wedding taking place while outside were cones of rice and flower petals to shower the newly weds as they exited after the ceremony.

Entrance to the cathedral, Tui

Petals to throw at the bride and groom

Facade of the cathedral, Tui

Taking the motorway to get us through the hills as smoothly as possible we were suddenly hooted at by a couple of the interned campervans from the site this morning. They waved as they swept past and disappeared out of our lives for ever.

Around lunch time we reached this little town of Caniza. We parked and went to explore possibilities for lunch. A coffee and empanada in a bustling pasteleria answered the problem and we arrived at this nearby campsite after a stroll around the town.

There was nobody here at all but the electricity worked and the toilets were unlocked so we set Modestine up on a comfortable pitch and opened a can of beer. We are still the only people here but a really delightful man appeared to water the plants. He turned on the hot water and gave us the wifi code. Ian paid him and here we are, alone for the evening on a deserted campsite with a chilly wind making it impossible to sit outside. Ian has gone off to use the office with his computer. The man left it unlocked for him. I guess if anyone turns up we are expected to tell them it's 18 euros an night and explain how everything works!

Monday 1st May 2017, Cudillero, Asturias Spain
During the night on Saturday it poured with rain and continued throughout yesterday. We were completely alone on the campsite in Caniza and our pitch was a lake of water. Leaving the town behind we headed for the hills where the autovia carried us northwards along the deserted dual carriageway.

From time to time there was a burst of sunshine but generally it was dark with heavy showers sweeping in. We pulled off to visit Lugo with its intact Roman Walls behind which the picturesque old granite town sheltered. It is a very pleasant place, on the UNESCO world heritage list.

Roman City walls, Lugo

Cathedral behind the city walls, Lugo

Carved statues on a float in the cathedral for parading through the streets during Holy Week, Lugo

City walls, Lugo

Town Hall, Lugo

Here we found somewhere for coffee and a snack before climbing up onto the intact walls with their defensive towers.

On the city walls, Lugo

It was icy cold and the sky a dark grey colour. There was little pleasure in wandering the streets in the rain so after exploring the interior of the cathedral we returned to Modestine and made our way back up onto the dual carriageway heading towards Oviedo. This autovia was not even under construction on our admittedly outdated map! The route was almost deserted and we made good progress. Then the rain returned in earnest. Threading through the hills high above sea level our windscreen was soon piling up with sleet and slush. Then we ran into snow which settled over the carriageway and blotted out the landscape. We were obliged to slow right down as we descended the winding slopes. Eventually we were low enough that the snow turned to rain and finally we were down at sea level again. Soon we were on familiar ground as we made our way to the campsite we'd used on our way down to Portugal - Gaivota, near Barreiros. This time the wind had dropped and we were soon settled on the same pitch as previously. While supper cooked we crossed to the little bar and sat with a couple of local beers and some tapas of Iberian ham attempting to decipher the Spanish daily newspaper.

Coast at Barreiros

This morning we explored the coast along the tiny backroad that ran along beside the sandy beaches. The sea was awesomely beautiful with white waves rolling in from a sea of deep green and dark blue. Way out to sea the swelling waves moved relentlessly forward to grow, curl over and surge onwards capped by the manes of galloping white horses. These would rise, curl and crash down onto the sand, or break against offshore granite rocks already undermined from years of relentless battering. The waves are strong but the rock is stronger. The crash and surge of the sea is mesmerising. Over time caves have been worn through the cliffs and rocks. Here the breaking waves crash into each other creating foaming white whirlpools. The beaches stretch for miles along the coast, fringed by the sea with stretches of smooth, freshly washed sand. We stopped to explore the cliffs at the "beach of the cathedrals", named for the battered and distorted granite stacks standing, their feet in the surging sea. A boardwalk has been established to protect the cliffs from the feet of the visitors who come to admire the splendour of these cliffs. Yellow gorse and broom, purple heather and a mass of pretty wild flowers crowd the cliffs while above seagulls hang and glide on the thermal currents.

Coast near Barreiros

Coast near Barreiros

Coast near Barreiros

Coast near Barreiros

Coast near Barreiros

Coast near Barreiros

It was though very cold. As elsewhere May Day in Spain is a public holiday but, although there were people around, the cold weather seems to have discouraged many from venturing out. It has been a very enjoyable day of easy driving through stunning scenery.

The narrow coastal road wound its way along the cliffs, passing isolated little farms and ancient horreos until it eventually rejoined the main inland road which led us to the unremarkable but pleasant enough little town of Ribadeo for a very chilly stroll. We ended up at the bottom of the long, steep slope leading down to the town's port on the river estuary where ships were loading cut tree trunks for shipment. Overhead and resting on high columns across the estuary was the autovia bridge we were to rejoin later.


Derelict mansion on the main square, formerly the public library, Ribadeo

Port with autovia, Ribadeo

We stopped for a coffee at a small bar. Here we were given tapas to eat with the coffee! Has anyone else ever eaten octopus as an accompaniment to a tiny, strong, black coffee? It was okay but neither benefitted much from their liaison! It was an octopus bar and the menu seemed to offer octopus, octopus or octopus! So we accepted graciously. I don't think I will be making a habit of it though.

Around lunch time we drove down from the autovia and out to the headland dominated by the lighthouse of Cabo de Busto. It was on a small headland with stunning views along the deserted coast in either direction. Several Spanish families were also gathered there for family picnics and walks. One family were flying a drone right out to sea and up over nearby forested woodland.

Faro de Cabo de Busto

Coast at Cabo de Busto

Coast at Cabo de Busto

Later we returned up to the autovia and continued in the direction of Oviedo. We reached this site, as intended around 5pm and will explore the little fishing town of Cudillero tomorrow.